September 16, 2014

Shadows is here!

The backlist came home today

 

All 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 boxes of it. I should know, I shifted all of them. I am a HEROINE.  Peter says so.  I am a heroine having a nice little quarter bottle of champagne.*  I’m kind of assuming I won’t get out of bed at all tomorrow** because all my muscles will have gone paralytic*** as well as the ME saying, you did WHAT? Lie down,† but tonight I am aglow with virtue and a certain amount of astonishment.  I’m still half spazzing with adrenaline so I thought I could tell you about how amazing I am.

Everything went wrong really early when I had a tech disaster over breakfast†† so I got up to Third House, to meet Atlas and his trailer, a good half hour later than scheduled. Fortunately Atlas is used to me.

It took two trips to haul all those boxes home††† and Atlas got all lugubrious the first time and said it might take three‡ whereupon I went into Frantic Action Mode and shoved a dozen boxes into Wolfgang, who is a bit tardis-like that way.  We weren’t going to get our somewhat bedraggled loot‡‡ into the attic today so Atlas unloaded it onto a pallet of black plastic garbage bags on the paving in front of the summerhouse‡‡‡ and then we rushed back for the second load . . . well, ‘rush’ does not pertain to Atlas’ trailer, but he set out while I went back to the cottage for Pav and (a) got embroiled with a neighbour having a flap (b) WOLFGANG WAS MAKING A STRANGE NEW NOISE§ (c) got stuck behind a bicycle for about three miles.§§  By the time I finally arrived Atlas had nearly finished his plan for world peace and was just drawing up his list of world leaders to send it to.

When Atlas got the last of the second load into the back garden it was past his time to leave. So I was left looking at an Alp of book boxes.  Peter told me helpfully that it might very well rain tonight.  Not enough to do the garden(s) any good.  Just enough to wet down boxes of backlist.

Tarpaulin, said Peter. Um, I said.  And started carrying boxes upstairs.  I meant to keep count, but I kept forgetting.  Nearly a hundred.  No, I’m serious.  Over ninety but not quite a hundred.  I think.  Some of them were small.  Not very many.

It took me quite a while. Atlas had sensibly put most of the biggest boxes in the bottom layer and by the time I reached it I had blisters on the middle joints of my little fingers and the insides of my arms just below the elbows.  I was also cranky. I shifted about twenty of these last leviathans under the porch roof by the garden/sitting room door in the niches created by the bay windows. Everything else is in the attic. Oh, and yes, it is all going to fit. . . .

I think I’ll take another arnica.§§§

* * *

* It’s going to be a drunken, revelrous week: we’re taking Nina and Ignatius out to dinner on Friday as an INADEQUATE THANK YOU for everything they’ve done around the house move.  Ignatius installed the much delayed splashback just this weekend.  I hadn’t had a car^ all week so I finally rang the Hardened Glass People on Friday and my impression is that they went around looking under everybody’s desks till they found it.  However, they did find it.^^  And Ignatius installed it.  Hurrah hurrah hurrah.  Tick one more thing off the House Move list.  Only nearly as many things left on said list as there are boxes of backlist.

^ And they mended the thing they found+ but everything I took him in for is still there going zap whine roar moan.

+ Note to self: next time Wolfgang starts rattling like a nearly twenty-year-old car, ask them to check that there are no shock absorbers ready to fall off and go whirling down the road independently while Wolfgang and I blast away in a sudden, unplanned different direction.

^^ I should not have been driving on Friday—I told you it was a bad ME day—but God was looking out for me.  He/she/it/they could have just not given me an ME day in the first place but I suppose that would be too easy.

** YAAAAAAY says the hellmob. MOVE OVER.

*** See, the champagne is therapeutic.  Really.  Absolutely.

† Yes, all right, don’t be so pushy, I need a pee first.  I’ll lie down again in a minute, supposing the hellmob has left me any space. Bed sharing presently is a bit problematic because HALF the bed is still taken up with all the sheets and towels out of my airing cupboard.  And have I mentioned that Atlas, my shelf builder, is GOING ON A FORTNIGHT’S HOLIDAY?

†† Most of my frelling kit at this point is ancient as tech goes, and while I hope the desktop—which is in fact the oldest of all—will soldier on for a while and possibly Pooka also, both the iPad and the laptop are frelling racing down that last long slope.  Poor Raphael would already have the new stuff at least ordered and probably installed by now if I didn’t KEEP CHANGING MY MIND.  There’s this vast horrible continuum of specs and . . . and . . . but the bottom line is that the Apple experiment has been kind of a bust.  Pooka—who is an iPhone, for anyone who has forgotten (!)—is okay and I’ll worry about what to upgrade her to when she starts failing, but I have had it with the iPad refusing to play nicely with all the Microsoft stuff I’ve been living by for the last fifteen or so years.  Fifteen or so years ago you could not get Apple over here, or at least no one would support it, so when I bought my first real computer it just was not an issue that all my American friends said Apple is better.  And I loathe Microsoft but it’s what I’m used to and I can’t be bothered trying to learn a whole new ratbagging system which, from my experience with the iPad is not so blindingly marvellous thank you very much. My next tablet will run Windows. Sue me.

††† Which is not wholly a bad thing. I took the hellhounds along the first time and hurtled them in the farmland, splendidly riddled with footpaths, beyond the storage place—loading Atlas’ trailer with book boxes is not really a two person job—and then brought the hellterror the second time and hurtled her. The hellhounds aren’t what I’d call safe to stock, but they do know I won’t let them chase anything interesting.  The hellterror got a little overexcited because she hasn’t had as many long country hurtles as the hellhounds had at her age but I’m still bigger than she is.  And she was so beside herself about the game birds that she missed a perfectly good rabbit sitting in the middle of a stubble field.

‡ We did this today^ in case it Did Not End Well because his only other free day before his fortnight away is Thursday,

^ When I could have been having my first voice lesson after a way-too-long break.  Summer holidays are overrated.

‡‡ Some of those boxes have been loaded and reloaded and written on and written over and written over the over so often they probably need new shock absorbers. And speaking of the disintegration of crucial parts I wish to remark again on the sheer bloody awfulness of British tape. I swear half the frelling boxes’ bottoms are falling out because the heavy packing tape has lost the will to live and started falling off like hair from a hellmob. Grrrrrrr.

‡‡‡ Which is full of Atlas’ tools and unfinished projects and leftover stuff from moving house. And I need to get it cleared out before the first frosts so I can get plants in there and the growlight back from the cottage’s sitting room.  ARRRRRRRRRGH.  Maybe I’ll lie down till January.  No, March.

§ Which seems to have been something he picked up bouncing over back roads, which then clattered its way back out again.  I HOPE.  But I wasted about five minutes crawling around on my hands and knees trying to find . . . whatever.

§§ I HATE BICYCLES. I am not sane on this subject.^  I have many friends who ride bicycles regularly and I have at least two who frelling race. I HATE BICYCLES.  If there isn’t room on a given road for a car to pass a bicycle it should be BANNED to bicycles.^^  They are a sodding hazard.  And for example today there were I think eight cars behind this bozo going fifteen miles an hour—which is a perfectly good speed for a bicycle—before we could get past him.  It regularly happens in the local equivalent of rush hour that #8 in the queue out of town will simply rocket on by the rest of us, white-knuckled with fury at our steering wheels ourselves, with the bicycle in the lead—and those adrenaline spikes when I’m waiting for all of us to die in a colossal pile up when a juggernaut comes over the hill and hits #8 on the wrong side of the road are very bad for me.

^ Consider yourselves warned. This is my blog.  You want to argue about it, go elsewhere.

^^ Or to cars. But these two forms of vehicular transport are incompatible on shared road space.  And I don’t want bicycles mowing down the hellmob and me on the pavement either.

§§§ You don’t have to be in pain already to take arnica.  The likely prospect will do.  If you know you’ve overdone it but you don’t know how badly . . . take some arnica.  And maybe you won’t have to find out.

The horror, the horror

 

The attic.  Moan.  The attic.  At Third House.  Moooooan.  The attic . . . moan.  August is almost gone and some time in September I have to bring the frelling backlist home from the last storage unit.  All forty-seven gazillion boxes of it.  And you can already hardly edge around* all the boxes of files** and of books*** that won’t fit† either downstairs or at the cottage††  Moan.

I NEED DISTRACTION.  I KNOW.  I’LL RESPOND TO A FEW FORUM COMMENTS.

Katinseattle

A few years ago I needed a plumber for my small bathroom. I warned the man at the other end of the phone line, “It’s a very small space.” He answered cheerfully, “I’ll send a very small plumber.” She was. And she fixed it. But she’s the only one I’ve ever seen.

For some reason, probably because I am still suffering post-house-move brain-blastedness†††, the reference to size makes me think of the stalwart young men who moved my piano, only one of the three of whom looked at all as if he might lift heavy things for a living.  I was also thinking of Plumbers I Have Known folding themselves up into spaces much too small for them . . . and the tendency among folded-up plumbers to demonstrate builder’s crack to an extreme degree.

All three of my piano movers were wearing the kind of low-slung trouserage prone to builder’s-crackage.  And as they all three bent down the first time to examine the basis of the situation I was treated to . . . a vast triple frontage‡ of LURID COLOURED BOXER SHORTS.  I was delighted.  I also nearly burst out laughing.

Nat

These blogs are sooooo making me not want to renovate our house, even though it’s desperately needed…

Oh come on.  It’s romantic having to put buckets out for the drips, and to lie snuggled up in bed listening to the mice playing polo in the walls, and to have tadpoles coming in through the kitchen tap (it’s only for a month or two in the spring, after all), and floorboards so aggressively wavy and unpredictable that if you’ve had a beer in the last twenty-four hours you’d better sleep in the barn (under a tarpaulin).  Where’s your sense of ADVENTURE?

Diane in MN

. . . As it’s a good and very efficient furnace, replacing it never came up: a good thing, as a new furnace would have been even spendier. I feel your pain.

Yes.  One of the—or rather the—clinching argument of Shiny New Plumber about replacing my current boiler is that by the time I bought the parts for the old one I’d be halfway to the new one . . . AND the old one is a piece of crap.  Since I only have Shiny New Plumber at all kind of far out on a limb of semi-unknown recommendations—one would rather hire a new plumber because one’s best friend has used him for twenty years and her entire family loves him including the goldfish, whom he replumbed on an emergency basis one Sunday afternoon when the fishtank exploded—I did look up the boiler he’s recommending and it’s number one by about twenty points in the WHICH? rating which is a good sign.  An even better sign will be if he knows how to put it in.  Mind you according to his web site he’s about third generation in a large family of plumbers . . . although he told me he is failing to interest his thirteen-year-old daughter in carrying on the family tradition.

And, speaking of small, and the state of the cottage‡‡, I hope the extra body he brings to assist him is svelte and bendy.   A thirteen-year-old daughter would be perfect.

But I really want my hot water.

Me too, big time, and so I NEVER TALK ABOUT IT because I don’t want to give the hot water heater any ideas, like thinking it’s reached retirement age. And I don’t know where that sentence came from; I never wrote it.

No, no, of course not, if your hot water heater comes round for confirmation I will stoutly deny everything.  My current object has only to last two more baths.  Please God and St Mermaid-of-the-Flowing-Waters.  I’ve had the uneasy sensation that it’s been getting a little whimsical since Shiny New Plumber condemned it.

Shalea

Hot water is one of the critical components of civilisation, in my opinion.

I ENTIRELY CONCUR.

Stardancer

Oof. At least you got a very nice individual plumber?

Well he’s certainly very jolly‡‡‡.  He also underwrites a seven-year guarantee on the new diamond-encrusted family member, which is popular.

Hoonerd

Wait, stuck on the lavender comment. Was the lady referring to her houseplant as her pet, is there really a dog breed nicknamed lavender, or was she referring to the unmentionably enthusiastic “L” word dogs?

Not exactly.  She was having a little trouble with the English language and maybe Labradors are called lavenders in her mother tongue.  I’m not sure if she was doing that thing of using the word that almost sounds right and assuming it would do, or whether her accent was so strong that ‘Labrador’ was coming out ‘lavender’.  Whatever.

Speaking of which, I may have been losing respect for them before reading the blog because everyone around here has them (or chihuahuas or pit bulls, or mixes of all three), but your anecdotes certainly haven’t helped their case.

Labradors are slime.  Except, occasionally, when they aren’t.  There are two entirely different strains of them any more, at least in England:  the proper old working dog style, and there’s a young bitch of this variety who lives around the corner who is a complete sweetie and I’m happy to see her coming, and the modern SUV-shaped ugly stupid monster, owned by ugly stupid people who let it wreck your temper as well as your gentle, bewildered hellhounds’, and to crap all over the churchyard and possibly your driveway.  I FRELLING WELL HATE LABRADORS.  Except, occasionally, when I don’t.  As above.

Chihuahuas are not a plague around here.  Pit bulls are, but pit bulls, or their ilk, are a plague pretty much everywhere.  It’s what gets popular, you know?  Popular is the death knell for anything nice.

And on that cheerful note . . .

 * * *

* Especially not without hitting your head on one of those where-did-that-come-from interesting ceiling angles.

** Including things like the original manuscript of BEAUTY.  Eeeeeep.  Which I rediscover every few years.  I think it gets more startling every time.  Also the original, equally smudgy, cut-and-pasted, liberally white-outed^ SWORD and HERO.  As I recall OUTLAWS is the worst in this regard.  I still have grisly flashbacks of kneeling on the floor in my little house in Maine, cutting up chapters and paragraphs and trying to tape them together again before I forget what I’m doing, and feverishly scrawling cryptic bridges in the margins, hoping I’ll be able to smooth them out later.  Or possibly OUTLAWS was the worst.  I used to burn a lot of mss in my early typewriter days.  Not so much now:  everything becomes second sheets for the printer.^^  Except occasionally when I revert and do my cutting and pasting in hard copy.  Occasionally this is therapeutic.

And then I burn them.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I just scream and tear them up.  And stomp on them.

^ Have you seen that there are typewriter aps for your iPad?  WHYYYYYYY?

^^ It’s surprisingly confusing having your own words on the back of your freshly printed out draft pages.  Even when you know that’s an old story and you’re working on a new story.

*** Books?  Books?  Never say.  I amaze myself.

† My thirty-six million horse books, fiction and nonfiction.  My nineteen million nonfiction critters of the world books, excluding horses, including a lot of guidebooks and wild critter rescue and management books, the majority being North American, including dozens of standard Audubon and Peterson field guides and so on, but by no means exclusively these—the NA collection expanded exponentially when I was figuring out DRAGONHAVEN and some of these are very small press/audience and peculiar.  The Australian critter books go with the general Australian collection—which considering I’ve only ever spent about five weeks there total is pretty impressive.  But Australia is, you know, mad, as well as instantly irresistible.  There’s nothing else anything like it.^  Including all that let’s-evolve-in-interesting-off-the-wall-ways on a huge freaky water-bound continent fauna, and flora to go with ’em.  WHEEEEEEE.  Also the Aboriginal mythology—that is, what the white invaders managed to write down about it—is fascinating.  And then there’s my British guidebook collection.  Siiiiiigh.  I adore guidebooks.  I buy them everywhere I go.^^  And I have the impassable attic to prove it.  AND PETER’S AND MY BACKLIST STILL HAS TO GO UP THERE.

^ Except maybe New Zealand or Tasmania in a distant-cousin way but I haven’t been to either of these.

^^ Sometimes I buy the same one several times.  Mottisfont, for example.  I must have three or four.  Every time the National Trust trots out a new edition—which is to say there are three more paragraphs of the foreword to the foreword to the foreword about what they’ve been doing since the last edition—I buy it again.  Hey, sometimes there are new rose photos.

†† I was hacking through the between-covers verbiage at the cottage today and thinking gloomily of the 1,000,000,000 fresh, new books I have on various wish lists at various on line emporia, and I know I will eventually add far more of these to my shopping basket(s) than I will delete, which does not address the books bought by opening a three-dimensional door, with or without three-dimensional bell, crossing a three-dimensional threshold, and browsing three-dimensional books on 3D shelves and tables, overseen by a very realistic-ly dimensional clerk who may or may not have a clue about books^ but can run a credit card machine.

^ It fascinates me that in the increasingly, or do I mean decreasingly, tiny beleaguered cult world of the high street bookstore, you do get clerks who seem to be there only because the gift shop didn’t have a grunt-level staff opening.

††† Or, even more likely, current attic complete mental breakdown

‡ Or backage, if you prefer

‡‡ You are reading the footnotes in order, aren’t you?

‡‡‡ He also, in the grand British working-man tradition, calls me ‘luv’.  I know I’m supposed to object to this, but it always makes me fall down laughing.  Increasingly so as they get younger and younger as I get older and older.  I know I’m twice his age because he mentioned being thirty-two.^

^ Which means, to have a thirteen-year-old daughter, he started young.

I still sing. Make an, ahem, note

 

I’m just back from church.  Hurrah.  I haven’t been in yonks and yonks.  I’ve thought for the last three Sundays—I think it’s three—that I would make it this week and then I have one of my unscheduled collapses and don’t.*  I felt deeply guilty** a fortnight ago when my name was on the [singing] rota again and Aloysius could have really used some support—St Margaret’s, like most of the rest of the northern hemisphere where people live, gets thin on the ground in August while they’re all on holiday in someone else’s home town.***  So if that shocking failure was a fortnight ago, my name would coming up on the rota again . . . yes.  Hmm.  Buck was leading.  And there was no one else on the list.

. . . Pav, go lie down.†

I looked the music rota up on Thursday and blanched.  Also I’d had no song list so I could look the stuff up on YouTube and complain.  But possibly I had had no song list because I had been a no show for so long they’d drummed me off the rolls.  Which in August when there is an insufficiency of people on stage to hide behind is maybe quite a good thing.

Friday.  Still no song list.  I began the day feeling pretty good in brain and energy terms, so I emailed Buck.  WHERE IS MY SONG LIST [I might come, you never know]?

. . . And then Saturday I had another frelling lying-down day†† ARRRRRRGH . . .

Pav, go lie down.†††

So I got cautiously out of bed today wondering what was going to happen.  One of the things that happened was that I FINALLY had a return email from Buck saying he’d only just got back from holiday to 1,000,000,000 emails and sure, come along tonight and we’ll party.

Um.

So I went early like a good girl and found him practising ALL BY HIMSELF.  Where would you like to be? he said, brandishing a music stand.  In the middle?  On the other side of the stage?  BEHIND YOU, I said clearly.  And you have to sing what I’m supposed to sing.  No messing around with the tune.‡  He gave me his Steady Look, which is never a good sign.  But we gambolled through the music, some of which I knew and some of which I did not know.  One of the ones I did not know has a long embarrassing spell of Woah woah woah where you just sort of emote with your mouth open, torturing innocent variations of the so-called tune in whatever manner seems good to you.  Ad lib.  You know.  Eh.  Gah.  Buck can do that one.

I didn’t know how much voice I was going to have, because I’ve been too feeble lately to do much singing beyond folk songs while hurtling, but since for some reason they refused to turn my microphone off tonight you could certainly hear me.

As it happened it wasn’t as dire as all that.  One of the blokes who plays a keyboard was unwise enough to turn up for the evening service and Buck nailed him.  So in fact we started a few minutes late while Jethro frantically dragged his keyboard out of the cupboard and started plugging things in with his hands going so fast he looked like an octopus with fingers.  Which may explain why, when we got to the woah woah woah and Buck shot off into parts unknown I not only shot after him but soared past—he’s a nice strong tenor with some top end but I’m a soprano.  I win.‡‡

And having been winding up cables that hate me since I first started this singing shtick, tonight I had a lesson from the ex-roadie and ex-member-of-the-band Buck in how to wind up a cable so it doesn’t hate you.  Who knew this was a skill?

Pav, GO LIE DOWN.

Yeah.  I think I’ll do that too.  Preferably in a bed however.  With lots of pillows and books.  Pav will probably prefer a chew toy.

* * *

* I haven’t been to the monks in forever either.  Siiiiiiigh.  If you have ME, don’t join a church frelling MILES from where you live or fall in love with a bunch of monks who are even farther away.  I thought I was finally going to make it to the abbey last Saturday . . . and got an email from Alfrick saying, don’t come if you were planning to, there’s a doodah^ on and night prayer is cancelled.  And then Sunday, possibly from disappointment, I had another lying-down-in-a-daze day, and didn’t make it to church again.

^ This is of course the deep theological usage of the term ‘doodah’.

** Which does not improve the lying-down-in-a-daze experience

*** And the evening service is the little one.  Apparently the earlier services still teem pretty well, even in August.

† Poor Pav’s training has gone totally pear-shaped the last two months or so what with Everything Else Going On and I swore that as soon as things even BEGAN to settle down I’d start doing something more with her again.^   And fabulously amusing as rolling over on command is, the thing that would make a significant difference to both her quality of life and mine is if she would learn to GO LIE DOWN on command, so I have a better alternative when she’s winding herself up to start bouncing off the ceiling than to lock her up in her crate again.  Even bribing her with foooooood gets a little oppressive after a while and I need her to like her crate because she inevitably spends a good deal of time in it.  And I don’t want to make a huge deal of it when she’s just being a bull terrier and put her in her harness and make her Long Down at my feet.  ‘Go lie down’ is just another off button like Southdowner-trained Olivia’s holding is.^^

^ Her walking more or less at heel and sitting and looking up at me when I stop is getting not at all bad except, of course, when I start to think so.  But people who know bullies tend to fall down laughing when they see us doing our somewhat erratic trick+.  I’m usually smiling even without onlookers++.  The little evil eyes do enhance the experience of being stared up at—and the way a bullie’s back legs are built how bullies sit down often provokes hilarity even in the clueless onlooker.

+ Ie successfully.

++ No NOT in surprise.  You rude person.

++ Holding still works fine, by the way.  If she gets too turbo-charged about another dog—and with her personality I am not going to risk her being ruined by too many encounters with stupid people’s off lead ugly citizens the way my poor sweet hellhounds have been ruined—I don’t just pick her up I hold her.

†† Possibly due to the extreme frustrations of Friday, which included, after learning of the third mortgage I was going to have to take out to pay for the new boiler, belting into Mauncester at the last possible minute to pick up our NEW CLEAR GLASS SPLASHBACK^ for the gas hob/stovetop at Third House which Ignatius had already promised to screw in on Saturday . . . AND THEY FRELLING MUFFED THE JOB.  And are going to have to do it all over again.  On their penny, but even so.  Arrrrrrgh.

And then I rang handbells with Niall for the first time in months and it TOTALLY wiped me out.  No measurable trace of brain function after.  I used to be able to ring handbells without having to be rolled home in a wheelbarrow. . . .

^ Ordering same having taken somewhat longer than it might have when I arrived last Friday at 3:55 to find that despite the stated hour of closure as 4:30 the only person still there was locking up as fast as he could turn the key.

Finding someone who could provide a clear glass splashback has been a whole other saga as fashion presently dictates that the only splashbacks any cool up to the minute person would want are brutally glossy things in really harsh grisly in your face colours or the even more in your face polished steel uggggggh.  I get enough of the dentist’s office/torturer’s look at my dentist’s office/torturer’s tea parties, okay?  AND I WANT TO SEE MY TILES.  They’re nice tiles and they cost a lot of money.

††† If you stirred Pav and me together you’d get . . . one very extraordinary looking creature who lay down precisely the right amount in precisely the right circumstances.

‡ Aloysius perfectly well can sing harmony, and often does.  Buck, however, is dangerous.  He gets carried away.

‡‡ I had two people tell me after how lovely my singing harmony was.^  They’re so nice at St Margaret’s.  And they so really need singers they are eager to be encouraging.

^ Wrong. Trust me on this.

And I haven’t even told you the latest BT saga

 

It’s not the actual moving that puts a house move at the top of the stress list:  it’s the everyflippingthing that goes wrong.

I’ve been trying for about five weeks to find a plumber that isn’t booked up till 2020.  The plumbing company that I used satisfactorily for several years has stopped answering their phone.  You get a message saying leave your phone number and we’ll get back to you, and they don’t.  I kept waiting for the real human being to return from the longest lunch in employee history and she never did, so I finally left a message, and that didn’t work either.  Meanwhile I was asking everyone who might have cause to know about local plumbers—other men* driving vans full of tools, for example, or the sector of the market which sells hammers and spanners and garpenscrads to them.  I even asked the nice lady at the estate agent’s who I talked to last autumn about letting Third House.  Hers was, as I recall, booked till 2032.

You can’t get away from plumbers’ vans in this frelling area and they all have emblazoned down their long sides variations on a theme of QUICK FRIENDLY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE.  HERE IS A SELECTION OF PHONE NUMBERS, HOME, MOBILE, THE LOCAL PUB THAT TAKES MESSAGES, AND MY DOG** WHO LOVES TO ANSWER THE PHONE SO MUCH I’VE GIVEN HIM HIS OWN LINE.  I ALSO ACCEPT SMOKE SIGNALS.  Snarl.  Most of these geezers aren’t too fabulous in the social niceties either.  I understand that they don’t like turning down work, but someone should gather them all in a room and teach them to say, clearly and calmly, I’m really sorry, but I’m booked till 2032.  The ‘I’m sorry’ part is important, as is the tone, which should not suggest to the hapless caller that the sound of her voice is similar to the sensation of hot needles being plunged into their ears.***

I am absolutely clueless about things like plumbers and I didn’t want just to start going through the phone book.  Dire things and cowboys proceed from such desperate procedures.  The most recent local independent I asked, on the recommendation of another Bloke Who Should Know, and whose van I see around town all the frelling time, turned out to speak in complete sentences and didn’t seem to hate me for wanting to give him some work.  So I asked him.

He said, uh, yeah, try Blithering Doodah.  They’re a big national company and they’ve got a branch in Mauncester, and they’re pretty good about who they hire, and I know some of the guys.

So I tried Blithering Doodah.†  That was Monday.  And I got this terribly chirpy and efficient sounding young woman who said certainly, we will send you a gas boiler specialist,†† since the purpose of my feverish search for a plumber is that neither Peter’s nor my boiler is working properly, and they could do it . . . Wednesday.  YIKES, I said, or words to that effect, you mean the day after tomorrow?  Certainly, said the young woman.  YES PLEASE, I said.

She then took my details down to my shoe size and the number of dogs in the household.†††  She took the post codes of both houses;  she consulted with her manager if the Gas Boiler Specialist could look at both boilers on the same job;  the manager said he could;  she took careful directions how to find the cottage, in case his SatNav failed, and said firmly that he would come to the cottage first since that was the phone number I was calling from, and we could proceed from there to Third House subsequently.

Fine. Great.  I spent nearly thirty six hours in a daze of success and accomplishment.  Also Peter is looking forward to not having to boil several kettles to take a hot bath.‡

This morning, much too early, the phone rang.  It was Blithering Doodah who wanted to tell me that my slot was no longer one to three this afternoon, but three to six, and I could assume it would be nearer five than four or three.  Golly, I said, he doesn’t mind working late?  No, said this new person, he doesn’t mind.  And then the new person proceeded to take all my details all over again, including the shoe size and the range of domestic fauna, but CONFIRMED that the Gas Boiler Specialist would come to the cottage.  At five o’clock or so.  And the Gas Boiler Specialist would ring me on my mobile about half an hour before he arrived.

You see where this is going.

I spent the morning shovelling a path at the cottage so he could get in.  I was finally taking the patient hellhounds out for a hurtle‡‡ and decided to swing by Third House to water those potted plants.  Peter plays bridge Wednesday afternoons so there wasn’t anyone there.  I’d just let all of us in the door when the hellhounds shot back outside again and there was a whoop of alarm from the courtyard.  Frell.  I followed them hastily and discovered a young man just barely not climbing a tree.‡‡‡

You wanted a plumber to look at your boiler? said the young man.

It was about three-forty-five.  I gaped at him.  You’re not supposed to be here for hours, I said.  And this is the wrong house.  And you were supposed to ring me half an hour before you got here.

This is the only address they gave me, he said.  They didn’t give me a phone number either.

ARRRRRGH.  Well, what a good thing I happened to be here.

Blithering Doodah are pretty good generally, he said.  But their customer service, um.  At least they gave me the right day this time.  They don’t always.

So.  He examined Peter’s boiler.  And there was something wrong with it.  Modified hurrah.  But it’s not like the funny noise your car is making and the mechanic looks at you sidelong and says I don’t hear any funny noises and it’s running fine.  Here’s my bill for two hours of drinking coffee and chatting up the new receptionist.

There is, however, something wrong with Peter’s boiler to the tune of several hundred pounds.  Arrrrgh.

The young man then goes off in his van to meet me at the cottage—my arrival somewhat delayed by the fact that now the hellhounds decide to perform various ablutions, and they do not hurry their ablutions, my hellhounds—spends about thirty seconds looking at my boiler, appears to be repressing snickering and says . . . I’m sorry, but this thing is a piece of rubbish.  You should just get rid of it and buy a new one.

YAMMER YAMMER YAMMER GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE GIBBLE.§

Yeah, he said.  But by the time you buy the parts you’re halfway to a new one anyway . . . and this one never was any good.  An Infinity Dreadnaught will last you forever.

Anyone want to guess what an Infinity Dreadnaught costs?§§

. . . I have to go lie down again.§§§

* * *

* Are there any female plumbers?  Maybe in other countries?  Iceland, which may not be known for fiscal stability but they’ve got the best rating for gender equality in the first world?  Don’t you school-leavers out there know that you will ALWAYS be in work if you’re a plumber?  And if you don’t want to worry about those blocked-loo calls, you can specialise, and then you can charge more too.

** There’s a woman I see occasionally waiting for her ride when I lurch past behind some hellmob division or other.  She is, unusually, an admirer of both my hurtle shifts;  I’ve noticed that generally the lurcher and the bullie admiration societies are non-overlapping sets.  Pav saw her slightly before I did the last time and was already in full assault mode before I got her hauled in.^  But the woman laughed and said she had a dog of her own.  So we’ve become quite friendly in the monosyllabic ‘hi’ ‘hi’ way.  Tonight I was very tired after striving with plumbers and it was the hellhounds that got away from me and started milling about this woman as if she were their presumed lost forever best friend and by the way she was responding maybe she was.  I have ascertained in our minimal conversations that she doesn’t merely have an accent—as I have an accent—but that English of any variety is not her first language.  Tonight I said, you told me you have a dog, what kind is it?  Oh it is a lavender, she said and I instantly translated this as Labrador without even noticing I was doing it, probably because the L-word is always what a dog beginning with ‘L’ is, never a Lithuanian Hound or a Lhasa Apso, and there are more frelling L-words around here than all the other dog breeds combined.  Oh, I said politely, they tend to be very friendly and enthusiastic too.

It wasn’t till I was already striding down the road again at hellhound speed^^ that I was playing the conversation back in my mind and I thought, lavender?

^ Note:  arrrgh.  I am not so doting as to assume that everyone likes being hustled by dogs, even a hellmob as beautiful and charming as mine, and if you possess a bunch of eager hustlers, it behoves you to be quick on the brake button.

^^ They’d had kind of a boring day due to plumbers etc and had some catching up to do on the wind-in-their-fur thing.

*** Maybe they don’t like American accents?  Maybe it’s part of the Secret Plumber Handshake ritual?  ‘And we all hate American accents!’

† I should have realised from the name, right?   Umm . . .

†† See?  Specialist.  I bet he’s never unplugged a loo.

††† None.  Two hellhounds and a hellterror however.

‡ I merely have no central heating.  I won’t care for another couple of months and I may not care then since with the Aga in the centre of this little house and at the foot of the stairs so the heat streams up the hall, I only turn the heating on for short hedonistic self-indulgent bursts.  The last time I tried, in March or thereabouts, nothing happened.  Eh, I’ll worry about it later, I thought.  But it makes me faintly anxious that half my boiler isn’t working—the hot water might follow—and it seems like the responsible grown-up thing to do, to have it mended.

‡‡ Leaving an outraged hellterror hanging from the top of her crate making noises like a jungleful of monkeys.  We go through this every day.  She has Riot Time at the cottage—and if the hellhounds retreat to the back of their crate I shut them in so she can’t get at them—including extensive tummy rubbing, Long Yellow Thing wars and varying individual excitements such as helping me water the potted plants or going upstairs to check if the document I just printed actually did.  And then I shut her up again with her breakfast.^  And try to get out the door with the hellhounds while she’s preoccupied.  This doesn’t stop the protests, but the noise is a bit muffled.

^ Well.  Let’s say first meal of the day.

‡‡‡ Clearly he does not have a lavender at home.

§ Including the fact that it’s only a few years old. I’ve already frelling replaced it once.

§§ And when he rang back to the head office to order the parts for Peter’s boiler—my arglefargling new one is a more complicated process—they had lost my credit card details AGAIN.

§§§ I could live without central heating.  But I really want my hot water.

Hellhound birthday

 

Hellhounds are EIGHT YEARS OLD TODAY.  How time flies when YOU KEEP MOVING HOUSE.*  Meanwhile I got home later tonight than planned and discovered us embroiled in Fresh Connectivity Issues**  JOY.  And furthermore my piano tuner is coming tomorrow not Tuesday–ahem, in the MORNING.***  So you’ll have to forgive me merely slamming a bunch of photos at you without my usual graceful and spirited commentary.  And as you cast your gaze over all these sleeping-hellhounds photos remember what I said on Pav’s birthday about needing to remember to find the action-shot button on my camera before I need it.  All or nearly all the sprinting hellhound photos you remember are from my old camera which was a lot less glam but also a lot less complicated.

And if the background looks familiar, yes, these are all from the mews.  I’m not even close to taking photos indoors at Third House.

Also forgive me if I linger a little on what is essentially the same shot.  They’re so cute when they’re asleep.#

P1060028 crop

 

P1060031 crop

 

P1060049

 

P1060051

 

P1060055

AWWWWWWW.  Wooshily wooshily.

P1060187 crop

 

P1060226 crop

 

P1060545 more crop

Hee hee hee hee.  This is Darkness’ characteristic pose but Chaos does flip over on his back and look ridiculous occasionally too.  SOMEWHERE I have a photo of them both upside down and grinning like loonies simultaneously but I can’t find it.

P1060670

I have to organise Sofa Time at Third House.  I get a lot of beady eyes when the hellterror is in my lap.  ALL VERY WELL FOR HER.  WHERE’S OUR SOFA?##

* * *

* I hope we get to STAY HERE.

** Late Sunday evening, you know.

*** JOY.  The real kind.

# And not chasing frelling hedgehogs–I keep reminding myself hedgehog numbers are dwindling and endangered but I wish they’d have a population explosion somewhere else–or refusing to eat their lovely birthday dinner full of raw liver which when they’re eating is their favourite thing^, or nailing the sodding next door terrier except that I STOPPED THEM WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH ME.  Neighbourly relations are going to get kind of strained here soon if next door doesn’t figure out they now need to keep the little **** on lead on this street.  They needed to keep it on lead before, when it regularly crapped in my driveway but . . .

^ Possibly second favourite thing.  They adore butter, and I’m YAAAAAAY CALORIES, but I imagine serious amounts of butter would not be a good idea.  Besides if I gave it to them often or in quantity they’d go off it.  It would become food.

## If I get organised enough we can also lie in heaps all over the bed in the attic, which is nice and low, unlike the hip-high four-poster at the cottage which furthermore, because it’s a very small bedroom full of stuff has no good angles of approach for leaping hellhounds.  I have enough trouble even with longer legs and hands to hold onto bedposts with–and no, I don’t want to try with a hellterror under one arm.

Next Page »